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Population

12,235

Population density

329.3/km2 (852.8/sq mi)

Land area

37.27 km2 (14.39 sq mi)

Territory

Tseycum & Pauquachin Nations

Main Industries

Aviation, boating, manufacturing

With its winding country roads dotted with farm stands, extensive parks, beautiful inlets and beaches, the district of North Saanich, dubbed The Provence of Vancouver Island, is beloved by residents for providing the perfect escape from the stress of big city life.

And though, says architect Silvia Bonet of Finlayson & Bonet, the community feels, and is, very rural, “it also attracts entrepreneurs and small businesses, especially those focused on lifestyle, farming, food production, restaurant, hospitality. Being in the green belt encourages those who want to carve out a creative niche and develop their own passion projects.”

The affluent rural community, located west and south of Sidney, is known as the farm and food shopping basket of the South Island. It’s home to just over 12,000 people, who enjoy a relaxed lifestyle and easy access to major transportation routes and urban amenities from nearby Sidney, Saanich and Victoria. Nearly 35% of North Saanich is dedicated to agriculture and the municipality is committed to preserving its unspoilt beauty and charm.

Business Climate

The median age of a North Saanich resident is 56, and their median household income of $103,296 make this community among the wealthiest in Greater Victoria. 

Focus on agriculture: North Saanich’s neighbourhoods are situated among and adjacent to many small and medium-sized farms and vineyards. Locals from across Greater Victoria flock to the many produce and flower roadside stands as well as farm markets. It is considered one of the most important agricultural land reserves in south Vancouver Island for its contribution to food security in the region.

Bustling commercial base: Though it is largely given over to residential neighbourhoods and farms, there are some commercial and retail hubs, all promoting the affluent lifestyle of their residents (think flying, riding, boating).

A hiker’s paradise: The community boasts an extensive park and trails network, as well as a popular cycling/walking paved path around the Victoria Airport.

Family friendly: In addition to its many opportunities for outdoor adventures, the municipality features aquatic facilities, skating arenas and other sport facilities at its recreation centre as well as two golf courses.

Travel hub: North Saanich is perfectly situated for travel to the rest of Vancouver Island, the lower mainland, the Gulf Islands, the U.S. and beyond, with several key hubs near at hand, including the Victoria International Airport, BC Ferries and Washington State Ferry.

Community Assets

Commercial hubs: There are some business areas in the municipality; most notably Deep Cove (retail) and McDonald Park (marine). These offer goods and services that support a discerning population interested in farm-to-table living as well as enjoying marine and air adventures.

Home based businesses: The people of  North Saanich largely work in either professional or agricultural services, with a large majority operating as small businesses from their homes. These include yoga studios, landscaping companies, and pet boarding services. 

Working farms: There are over 100 small farms, vineyards and nurseries in North Saanich, providing everything from grass-fed beef to vegetables, flowers, wine and cider. The municipality provides wide-ranging support for these endeavors in its bid to help the region become food self-reliant.

The 11th busiest airport in Canada: The Victoria International Airport (YYJ) serves over 1.9 million passengers per year through more than 100 daily flights (pre-pandemic). It also offers its own commercial opportunities, hosting flight schools, restaurants and manufacturing facilities within its grounds as well as an aviation museum and 443 Maritime Helicopter Squadron (Canadian Forces).

Swartz Bay ferry: This terminal is operated by BC Ferries, one of the largest ferry operators in the world, and connects passengers to Mill Bay, the Gulf Islands and the lower mainland.

Marine centre: North Saanich is also home to the Institute of Ocean Sciences, a government research institute that employs over 250 scientists, and the Pacific Geoscience Centre of Natural Resources, as well as several marinas.

Opportunities

Geoff Dickson is the CEO of the Victoria Airport Authority, one of the biggest industries – and employers – in the District.  He says he appreciates that North Saanich protects its agrarian setting but also recognizes the importance of its industrial and business tax base. “Mayor and Council are progressive in balancing and protecting the rural landscape while encouraging new business. We have very good community partnerships and friendships with the District at both the staff and political level.”

Looking to its future: North Saanich is updating its Official Community Plan, grouping the community’s goals around six themes: agriculture and local food systems, marine and natural systems, climate action and healthy communities and jobs.

Proud and protective: Businesses looking to support the municipality’s goals of protecting and enhancing their sensitive and significant agricultural and marine resources will be welcomed to the area. 

Climate change mitigation: The municipality welcomes those interested in supporting their goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and move toward a carbon neutral environment.

Commercial opportunities: North Saanich encourages appropriate business development at Victoria Airport and facilitates limited commercial development desired by their neighbourhoods in addition to growing a vibrant and sustainable agricultural economy.

Maintain housing integrity: The majority of North Saanich’s neighbourhoods are made up of single family homes. However rising unaffordability and population pressure have opened discussions around appropriate densification. Council is discussing how best to attain a suitable increase in housing support without negative impact to their environment and lifestyle.

The Right Fit for You?

If you’re looking for a rural lifestyle, establishing ventures that support the local farming and residential community, you’ll find North Saanich calling your name. The region is a haven for those interested in healthy, active living, while enjoying easy access to all that Vancouver Island has to offer.

Interested in learning more? Contact the team at South Island Prosperity Partnership.

History

North Saanich exists on the traditional territories of the W̱SÁNEĆ people, specifically, the BOḰEĆEN (Pauquachin) First Nation and W̱SĺḴEM (Tseycum) First Nation.

The first white settlers to reside at North Saanich were John and Mark Coles who arrived in early 1857. It’s rumoured they had a cabin/store where they traded with the W̱SÁNEĆ people. By the time of the Fraser River gold rush in 1858, most of North Saanich was settled by gold miners, settlers and speculators.

When it incorporated in 1905 North Saanich included the townsite of Sidney, but was dissolved in 1911 through lack of population and tax base. Its goal to become a municipality became a lasting reality in 1965.

Though it was the site of a private airfield in the 1920s, the location of today’s Victoria International Airport was also once a large military airport accommodating the Royal Canadian Airforce, the Royal Airforce, and the Royal Canadian Navy. 

In 1959 the airport received the official title of Victoria International Airport, and in 1943 Trans-Canada Air Lines (TCA) started a regular passenger service to Vancouver.